Monday, February 19, 2018

President's Day

How much do you know about George Washington and Abraham Lincoln whom we honor on President's Day? See if you learn something after taking this quiz like I did when I put it together.

The statements below apply to either Washington or Lincoln.
  1. _____ Stood 6'2” tall.
      2. _____ His mother was born in what is now the state of West Virginia.
  1. _____ Used his hat to carry important papers.
  1. _____ The first president to wear a beard.
  1. _____ Had three hoe cakes and tea most mornings for breakfast.
  1. _____ Introduced the mule to America.
  1. _____ Had red hair when he was young.
  1. _____ His formal education was only 18 months.
  1. _____ He patented a system to alter buoyancy of steamboats.
   10.  _____ Had no biological children

Bonus: Both Washington and Lincoln were born in February. What days are their birthdays on?


1. Washington-- Stood 6'2” tall.
     Washington and Lincoln were both tall for their time. Washington stood at 6'2” tall and Lincoln towered at 6'4” tall.

2. Lincoln-- His mother was born in what is now the state of West Virginia.
      Lincoln's mother, Nancy Hanks, was born in what is now Mineral County, WV. She died when he was nine years old. You can visit a replica of the cabin she was born in as well as a memorial marker there. 

3. Lincoln-- Used his hat to carry important papers.
     Lincoln's hat was more than a fashion statement. He also used it to carry important papers. If you want to see one of his top hats, visit the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution. 

4. Lincoln-- The first president to wear a beard. 
      The story goes that Lincoln received a letter from an 11 year old New York girl, Grace Bedell, who suggested that his thin face would look better with a beard. He grew a beard soon after that. Who knows? It may have helped him win the election. Other presidents with beards were Grant, Hayes, Garfield, and Harrison. Truman supposedly grew a beard while he was on vacation. 

5. Washington-- Had three hoe cakes and tea most mornings for breakfast.
      Hoe cakes were made from cornmeal and were originally baked on a hoe.

6. Washington-- Introduced the mule to America.
     Washington was looking for something that might work better than a horse for work around the farm. The mule, which is a cross between a male donkey and a female horse, seemed to fit the bill. 

7.  Washington-- Had red hair when he was young.
     Washington had red hair when he was young and contrary to popular belief, he never wore a wig. However, he did powder his hair which was fashionable at the time. 

8. Lincoln-- His formal education was only 18 months.
     Lincoln only went to school a few weeks here and there when he was not working. However, he always had a book in his hand including when he was plowing a field. 

9. Lincoln-- He patented a system to alter buoyancy of steamboats.
     His device was never manufactured, but he is the only US president to hold a patent. 

10. Washington-- Had no biological children.
     However, he raised two step-children from his wife, Martha, and helped raise two of his step grandchildren when their father, John, died. Lincoln was the father of four boys of which only one survived into adulthood.

Bonus: Both Washington and Lincoln were born in February. What days are their birthdays on?

Lincoln: February 12
Washington: February 22


This post is a blast from the past and originally appeared here February 20, 2012

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Thankful Sunday

I am thankful for my fig.

Soon, we will see things growing again outside, but we're not there yet. But we are there with a plant I have inside. I got a small fig plant late last summer from an acquaintance. Even though I was unfamiliar with growing figs, I was excited by the possibilities.  I transferred it from the yogurt container it was in into a bigger pot and promptly watched the two leaves it had fall off. I brought it inside for the winter with high hopes even though it looked dead. And I was not disappointed. Last week, seemingly out of nowhere, it showed signs of life with a small shoot and leaf. Wow, what a great surprise to see that tender, new growth.

So as I watch the snow and sleet fall outside, I am thankful for this little fig tree and the hope of things to come.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day!

In honor of Valentine's Day, I'm going to rerun a post I did several years ago about a Valentine party I went to when Wally was in 3rd grade. It was one of a series of posts of observations about different behaviors between boys and girls. I enjoy the stories involved, so I think I'll run the series again. Here's the first installment.

Boys vs. Girls--Wally's Valentine Party

Boys vs. Girls—You Choose 

 Before I had kids, I thought that each child was an individual, and didn't believe much in gender stereotypes in children. Little boys ran and jumped a lot because that's the kind of games they were taught. Little girls played with dolls because that was the kind of toys they were given. I thought that if all kids, regardless of gender, were exposed to the same things they would have the same tendencies. Then I spent some time in the real world of kids and figured out that I was wrong. Possibly there were some differences between boys and girls. From time to time, I'm going to share some of my experiences that led me to this conclusion. However, so as to not bias you, I'm going to let you guess, who are the boys in the stories and who are the girls.

 Today's Story Event: Wally's Third Grade Valentine Party

The Scene: The kids were seated around tables and had naturally grouped themselves into two groups with all boys on one side and all girls on the other side.

The Action: One group was carefully reading each Valentine and talking about who liked whom. The other group was seeing how many Red Hot cinnamon candies they could stuff in their mouth before their mouth burned too much. 

You choose: Which group was the boys and which was the girls?

Thursday, February 1, 2018

On My Nightstand

If you're like me, there's always more out there to read than you can get around to. And it doesn't help that these days, reading is often sleep inducing for me. However, that doesn't mean that I don't try to keep up. Here are the books I'm currently reading, browsing, looking at the pictures in, and sleeping with.

From Bottom to Top:

1. The Beginner's Guide to Starting a Garden by Sally Roth
I first got this book from the library, but liked it enough that I asked for it for Christmas. It is basically landscaping with common plants that people often give away. It has designs and tips for beds and gardens that seem practical and I could make. We have several beds that need reworked in our yard and I thought this would be a great reference.

2. The Edible Garden, a Sunset book by Hazel White and Janet Sanchez
I received a gift certificate for Christmas to an edible landscape company. I have a tree in mind that I want to get, but wanted to do some more research before I made any decisions. So when I ran across this book at the library, I brought it home for more study.

3. The Family Handyman
I brought home this magazine from the library because it had an article on a deck makeover, a project that we want to do at some point.

4. Laughter, the Best Medicine II, Reader's Digest
Remember this feature in Reader's Digest? I guess it's still there, actually, but I'm not sure since I haven't seen a Reader's Digest in a while. Anyway, I picked this book up at a used book sale to have some light, quick reading. It's the perfect bathroom reader or easy reading to go to sleep by.

5. The Beautiful, Edible Garden by Leslie Bennett and Stefani Bittner
Another book I checked out from the library to do a little more research before I decide what to buy with my gift certificate for edible plants.

6. The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
This is the book I read last month for my book club and needs to taken back to the library. The club agreed that it was a good book and enjoyed it. The basic story has a golem and a jinni stranded in New York City in 1899 without their typical masters and abilities. There are many levels to the story from the golem and jinni trying to survive in the human world anonymously to commentary on the immigration experience. It provided a lot of discussion for my club.

7. Why We Sleep by Matthew Wallace
This is a current popular book by Matthew Wallace, PhD, a sleep researcher. His goal with the book is to help people understand what sleep is and how important it is to our health and well being. I've just started the book, but I am already learning a lot.

8. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
This is my book club's selection for February. The book itself got very good reviews and the Netflix series based on it has won a lot of awards. I may the last person around to read it; so far I find it engaging.

Are you a read-one-book-until-it's-finished kind of person or a read-several-books-at-once sometimes finishing one of them kind of person? What does your nightstand look like?

Monday, January 29, 2018

More Neighborhood Exploration

Recently when there was a break from the frigid temperatures and the cold rains, we explored another neighborhood park. We found tennis courts, ball fields, playgrounds, an exercise trail, and a nature walk. We explored the nature walk which had long ago lost any of its information. Below are a few pictures.

The temperatures were in the fifties and the sky was clear.

The trail was mostly dry with only a few muddy spots from the rains earlier in the week.

We walked for a while chatting before I spotted this interesting tree. I felt it needed more investigation.

Ward was happy to wait on the trail while I fought my way through the brush to find the tree.

It was worth the scratches and the sticks in my hair because when I got closer, I found the ground littered with hedgeapples.

The large tree that I went to see was pretty impressive, but I was most excited with the hedgeapples. I didn't remember a lot about them, so I looked up one of my posts I did several years ago about hedgeapples when we got home. It's copied below if you want to learn a little more.

A Second Look--Hedgeapples
A Second Look guest this week--Miss Landers.  Photo credits: Miss Landers 

Miss Landers is introducing all kinds of things to me. First it was rutabagas and now it's hedgeapples which she found doing a Second Look around her vacation cabin.  Hedgeapples are something that I've heard about all of my life, but wasn't quite sure what they were.  Here are a few things I found out.

Hedgeapples are a bumpy fruit about the size of a grapefruit that grows on a thorny tree. They are a member of the mulberry family and have naturalized all over the United States although they are quite common in the prairies where rows of them were planted as wind breaks. Also, when they were allowed to grow together as a thorny hedge, the trees provided an effective fence for cattle. Hedgeapple trees were used extensively for cattle management until the invention of barbed wire. (Are you starting to get the idea of where the name "hedgeapple" came from?)

Although not toxic, they aren't as popular as you think they would be in the food world. The hulls are tough to get into which sends a lot of animals elsewhere. However, our friend, the squirrel, manages to chew to the inside to get to the tasty seeds.
Miss Landers found the ground littered with them.

We humans don't eat them either, but we do use the tree and its fruit for a few other things. Many people swear by the insect repellent properties of the hedgeapple, but as usual, the scientists don't see any real proof it helps. The wood of the tree is quite dense and is used to make bows. Many think it makes the best bows in the world.
This hedgeapple got caught between branches during its fall.

I know a little more about hedgeapples now. I can't wait to visit Miss Landers' vacation cabin and see the hedgeapples for myself.

(BTW:  Hedgeapples are also known as Osage oranges, horse apples, and bodarks.)

Want to know more?